NORMAN, Okla. — The Oklahoma football team returned to the practice fields on Thursday morning in full pads, but it was mostly another day of teaching and assignment work against the scout team offense and defense.
True freshmen quarterback Tommy Grady went through his second practice as a Sooner as the scout team quarterback.
Grady, who missed the first week of practice while getting some eligibility issues cleared up, said after practice it's good to be back out on the field.
"Running the scout team today was fun," said Grady. "You get to freelance a little bit in that you're going against the best defense in the country. Shoot, it's the most football action I've had in a while. I'm not really counting the all-star game. This was the real deal today. I'm glad I finally get to do something in a Sooner helmet."
The 6-foot-7 seven freshmen also says he's ready to accept his new role if that's what's best for the team.
"I'm not ruling out my chances of doing anything this year," Grady said. "Football is a team game. If they want me to be the scout team quarterback I will try to be the best scout team quarterback in the country."
The Oklahoma offense and defense spent over an hour of today's practice working against the scout team offense and defense. OU Head Coach Bob Stoops said after practice that they players on the scout team are still key to the Sooners' success.
"It's very important," said Stoops on the scout team work. "People don't understand how important they are. They have to give us a good look, either as a defense we're wanting to execute against or an offense we're wanting execute against. They've got to give us a good look at our opponents.
"We have a very athletic football squad from top to bottom," Stoops continued. "So our scout teams are pretty good. In some cases, our recent recruiting class is making up the scout team and we think that's the most athletic class we've recruited yet. Make no mistake about it, we watch our scout teams closely as coaches and we will move a player off the scout team if he's playing good enough and put him on the varsity. Remember, ‘Q' (Quentin Griffin) at one time was on the scout team.
One player who has worked his way up from the scout team and into a battle for the backup fullback spot is freshmen walk-on Dan Townsend. OU is desperately looking for someone to back up J.D. Runnels, and Townsend got a lot of work today with the second team. Walk-on Shawn Farria was the second team fullback to start the season. Speaking of Runnels, the sophomore from Midwest City got loose again today for big yardage after catching a swing pass. It's been said in just about every practice report so far, but look for Runnels to be a bigger part of the offense this year and develop into another weapon for Jason White.
Tight end coach Kevin Sumlin worked three tights ends (James Moses, Chris Chester and Lance Donley) today on the inside drill, and it appears that Moses is still No. 1 on the depth chart.
In team pass drills, Eric Bassey got most of the time with the first team defense with Mark Bradley and Antonio Perkins out and almost came up with an interception. Jason White tried to throw deep once and was intercepted by Jason Carter. Carter knocked down a couple of other passes and continues to have a tremendous camp.
White did a good job throwing the ball short, and Paul Thompson found Brandon Jones and Joe John Finley over the middle, but did fumble and option pitch. Thompson also scrambled well and completed passes to JeJuan Rankins and Wilson on a couple of occasions. Rankins is getting a lot more reps with Will Peoples out, and is taking advantage of it. As for Peoples, who didn't suit up for practice but is off his crutches and walking gingerly on his left leg. He still spent 20 minutes off to the side catching pass from OU strength assistant Mark Hill.
One of the best drills to watch during any given practice is the inside drill, which pits an offensive lineman going head to head against a defensive lineman while keeping him from getting a dummy posing as the quarterback 7-yards deep in the backfield. Tommie Harris and Davin Joseph always seem to have classic battles, but Harris got the best of Davin Joseph on one play, when he went right and hooked back with with a swim move. Jammal Brown held Jonathan Jackson in check for the most part, but ‘JJ' rebounded and reached the QB a couple of times.
Vince Carter was OU's best o-lineman of the day and didn't get beat once. Junior Wes Sims also held his own against the likes of Dan Cody and Calvin Thibodeaux.
There's still an obvious difference between the starting tackles and second team tackles. True freshmen Steven Coleman got to the quarterback and beat David Walker, but Lawrence Dampeer performance is limited because he is still struggling with heat problems.
The interesting thing to point out here is three years ago the defense dominated these drills. Now, the offense wins as many as they lose. That's certainly not a knock on the defense, but just goes to show you that the offensive line has vastly improved.
The Sooner defense worked a lot today on defending against the play-action and played it well. Now, the defense doesn't know it's coming but it seems that the scout team offense is running more play-action plays than usual to try and help the defense get more work against it.
OU also worked a lot on the fundamentals of kick coverage against scout return and kick teams.
The Sooners will get the rest of the day off and return to the practice fields tomorrow morning at 7:45 for another round of two-a-days.
8/14 Morning Practice Report
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